Today, the Government of Ontario announced the appointment of Tony Dean, former Secretary of Cabinet and Head of Ontario Public Service, to lead an independent review of the Ontario College of Trades and other key areas of Ontario’s skilled trades system.
Included under the purview of the review will be issues related to the scope of practice performed by a tradesperson, as well as the process for the classification of compulsory versus voluntary trades. Findings will be presented to both the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities and the College of Trades in October 2015.
The Government of Ontario also announced that all trade classification reviews will be paused during the duration of Mr. Dean’s review. Currently, the College is mandated to consider applications that seek to change the certification of trades from voluntary to compulsory. A compulsory trade is one in which workers must acquire a certificate of qualification from a government-accredited school in order to perform work in that trade. Workers in trades classified as compulsory must pay the College an annual membership fee of $120.
This review comes at a pivotal time. In its current form, the College is poorly positioned to deliver on many of the core elements of its mandate, which includes oversight of journeyperson-to-apprentice ratios, ensuring industry compliance and certification, and addressing labour market shortages by promoting careers in the skilled trades.
Today’s announcement is a first step towards supporting the success of the skilled trades in the province. Over the last year, concerns have mounted over the College’s compulsory membership structure, as well as bias in the College’s trade classification review process. However, the review does not touch upon other key areas of the College’s mandate, including Ontario’s high journeyperson-to-apprentice ratios and low apprenticeship completion rates, as well as the low number of youth entering the skilled trades as a career.
Since the College’s creation in 2009, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber Network have led the conversation about reforming the College of Trades. In October of 2013, the OCC released the report, Caution: Work Ahead, which highlights several serious issues facing the College and provides six recommendations that will make the College more responsive to employers’ needs.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce will participate vigorously in the review and continue to advocate for changes in the ratio review process.